Avoid 6 common email mistakes

Email marketing hasn’t disappeared. In fact, 60% of consumers say email is their preferred channel for receiving personalized offers. And other research reveals that email yields one of the highest returns on investment out of any marketing channel, with more than a 38:1 return.

But many businesses are doing email marketing wrong and missing big opportunities to connect with customers at every stage of their journey. In fact, one in six emails fail to reach the inbox altogether, the digital marketing equivalent of shouting into the void.

In this post, you’ll discover six common email marketing mistakes that can derail your email program and make your customer journey longer, more fragmented, and less cohesive. Fixing them can yield outsized returns.

Why everyone is struggling with email

Email marketing isn’t easy — and it’s become even more challenging over the past few years. First, many organizations are investing heavily in newer channels like TikTok and mobile messaging in an effort to expand their reach. This leaves less funding and internal mindshare for developing compelling email campaigns.

Another major issue is the fragmentation of customer data, which is typically scattered across multiple marketing automation, CMS, billing, and other systems. When data is scattered like this, marketers may not have a complete picture of each customer’s interactions with your business. As a result, it can be very difficult to target emails, and you can easily make embarrassing mistakes like emailing customers with an offer for a product they’ve already bought.

Other contributing factors include increasingly lean marketing teams as businesses delay hiring in response to macroeconomic uncertainty and difficulties attributing pipeline, revenues, and other results to specific emails.

Given all of these issues, it’s no surprise that most companies are making at least some of the missteps on our list.

1. Making assumptions about customers — and failing to create unified profiles

There is no substitute for data. Experienced marketers can make assumptions about what customers want or draw conclusions from market research. But neither of these methods is as effective as analyzing the data trail left by your customers and prospects interacting with your company’s specific messaging.

That’s why it’s critical to create unified customer profiles that bring together data from all your systems to provide a complete picture of each customer’s journey. It will be even more important when Google Chrome stops supporting third-party cookies by late 2024.

The bottom line? If you haven’t prioritized creating unified customer profiles, it’s time to start.

2. Not testing key variables with critical audiences

As noted above, making assumptions is never a good idea when it comes to email marketing. And this goes for the subject lines, content, visuals, and other campaign components as well as customer needs and intent. Also, creative elements like header images are very subjective, and teams can waste time arguing over whether or not to use, say, the blue or the red background.

Effective testing can bring much-needed objectivity to campaign development and allow teams to continually learn and improve their results. But failing to test — because it feels like too much effort or teams don’t know how to do it — is a common issue for marketing teams.

3. Not watching what your competitors are doing

Email marketing should not happen in a vacuum. If your customers have opted into your email list, there’s a good chance they’ve opted into your competitors’ lists. And the first step to standing out from the competition is understanding what they’re sending to your customers’ and prospects’ inboxes.

Discovering your competitors’ approach to email marketing can involve some research — and signing up for multiple email marketing lists. It’s hard work — but it pays big dividends.

4. Being late to comply with emerging privacy standards

New state-level consumer privacy laws are going into effect in the US while the enforcement of existing legislation, such as GDPR and PIPL, is tightening up. Additionally, many private organizations are also becoming much more stringent about consumer privacy and have enacted new guidelines and policies to enhance privacy.

While all these new standards make it harder for marketers to reach inboxes, delaying compliance won’t help. In fact, delaying too long can hurt your sender reputation and lead to lawsuits and even fines.

5. Failing to coordinate email campaigns with offers on other channels

We’ve all seen this play out at home and at work. Maybe you buy a product in-store and later receive an email offer inviting you to buy the same product online. Or maybe you schedule an appointment for a live demo with a sales rep and continue to receive emails asking you to watch a virtual demo. These things happen when your email campaigns are not closely coordinated across both channels and departments. The sooner you fix this issue, the happier you will make your customers.

6. Measuring the wrong metrics

Many email marketers focus almost exclusively on a handful of metrics like open rates and click-through rates to measure success. However, while these metrics can be useful, they don’t tell you everything. As inboxes become more crowded and difficult to reach, it’s important to measure sender reputation and inbox placement to determine if your emails are ending up in the spam folder or the “Gmail Promotions” tab.

Similarly, it’s critical to consider the ROI of your email campaigns. For example, an email might generate a high click-through rate but very few actual conversions or other meaningful activities. Estimating the ROI of email mapping click-throughs to actual sales or, for B2B companies, marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and other pipeline metrics.

Of course, email attribution reporting can be complicated — which is why many companies don’t do it and continue to settle for less than ideal results.

Get ready to transform your email marketing

We know that email marketing today is far from straightforward. That’s why Adobe and Validity teamed up to develop an eBook, Elevate the Customer Experience by Transforming Email Marketing Programs. It offers actionable advice for addressing all the potential issues highlighted in this post and building highly effective personalized campaigns.

Download the eBook and take your email results to the next level.